“Warning: Do Not Play” – Movie Review

Very often, artists throw themselves into their work, sometimes taking it far into dangerous territory. Is it ever worth it when it’s all for the sake of art? Shudder’s newest original film, a meta supernatural thriller from South Korea analyzes these very questions, and gets very disturbing along the way!

Curiosity Killed the Film Crew
The film begins with a nightmare as our main character Mi-Jung (Ye-Ji Seo) struggles to meet a deadline to write her horror movie. Upon hearing an infamous urban legend about a supposed cursed film, said to be directed by a ghost, she seeks it out to edit into her own.

This journey takes her down a dark rabbit-hole where she meets the crazed director of the original cursed film, seeing just what kind of toll it all took on him. From there, it devolved into surreal, psychological horror that makes us question our own sanity by the end.

She has a fascinating blend of naïve determination that drives her.

Familiar, But New Themes
Initially, it seems only natural to compare Warning: Do Not Play to The Ring (as well as the original Japanese Ringu), given that both deal with allegedly cursed films that wreak havoc and death upon those who seek them out.

The Ring’s emphasis was squarely on the video itself. We see it early on and we know that whoever views it will be killed in 7 days. Here however, we don’t see the cursed movie until much later, and it’s more the very idea and dread of the curse that creates the horror.

We know that Mi-Jung is going down a path she shouldn’t, but because we don’t know exactly where it will lead, it makes things all the more interesting. Plus, for any seasoned horror fan, all the meta references to film itself are a lot of fun.

It also had some strong Paranormal Activity vibes with its occasional use of found footage.

Hitting Close to Home
On a more personal note, this movie affected me in a way that I didn’t expect it to. As a lifelong fan of all things horror and supernatural, and as a writer, I found myself identifying a great deal with Mi-Jung.

I’ve always been somewhat on the fence as to whether or not I truly believe in things like ghosts or demons, but I’ve always had a morbid fascination with them (which is the entire reason I started Halloween Year-Round).

I’ve visited many places that were haunted, and even spent the night in Lizzie Borden’s house in Massachusetts (it’s a B&B now!). So I can honestly say that, if given the same opportunity to track down a cursed movie that supposedly killed people, I too might take that bait.

They say that curiosity killed the cat, but at least the cat died knowing the truth…

Because of that, the movie, especially its main character, felt incredibly relatable to me. And with a title like Warning: Do Not Play, one might think that Shudder is daring us to press “Play” and venture down our own demonic rabbit-hole

Warning: Do Not Play is streaming exclusively on Shudder

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